Amanda Orso of High Low Hostess: Meeting The Needs of the ‘Home Hostess’ For Any Occasion

Always a passionate party-giver, Amanda Orso has been planning top-tier events in New York City for the past 15 years. With her entertaining expertise and penchant for taking cues from fashion, she provides her clients valuable direction and guidance designed to meet the needs of the ‘home hostess’ for any occasion.

Her one-of-a-kind online party planning platform, the High-Low Hostess harnesses her keen ability to combine high-end and low-end. 

Amanda Orso of High Low Hostess
Photo credit: BV, HnM and Liliana Porras

Can you share with us your background and your career?

At my roots, I am a rural Wisconsin farm girl, who has branched into a busy and buzzing New York entrepreneur! I grew up on a small dairy farm outside Madison, WI; went to college at Arizona State, where I earned a BS degree in Economics; and moved to Manhattan in September 2001, where I currently live with my husband, parents, and children. 

I spent my early career running the white-collar division of a premier private investigations firm, where I worked for about a decade, working on every type of corporate case imaginable! I honed incredible research skills, diligence, and keen attention to detail during my tenure. 

Being a self-proclaimed foodie and health nut, I went on to create gluten- and grain-free bread business called Barely Bread, which I still operate and own.

I spent a year researching nutrient-dense flour sources (such as almond flour, coconut flour, and sweet potato flour) and testing recipes in my NYC kitchen before eventually launching a line of bread and bakery products that are all naturally low in carbohydrates and sugars and high in protein and fiber.

As an avid thrower of dinner parties and other events throughout my entire adult life, I eventually and most recently founded High-Low Hostess, a party styling platform and swag bag business where, among other things, I provide resources and guidance to help the home hostess entertain more elegantly and effortlessly.

swag bag

Can you share with our readers how you started your company and the mission behind it? 

I married into an Italian family, where the motto is quite easily, “the more the merrier,” and every summer Saturday (and throughout the year), my immediate family hosts anywhere from 16 to 32 people for a sit-down dinner party. With a gregarious husband, three adult step-sons (and an 8-year-old daughter), we have a revolving door of friends and family who spend their evenings with us.

High-Low Hostess began with the encouragement of these friends and party guests – many of them wanted to host similarly, but didn’t necessarily know where to start and didn’t believe they had the time, money, resources, or general know-how; and they wanted help!

Additionally, friends were often shocked when I shared some of my “budget” table-styling tips and wanted to learn more. One particular friend noted that my approach to the table or event styling was similar to many women’s approach to fashion – e.g. the high-end shoe or bag (“high”) with the budget dress (“low”), which felt very accessible and attainable.

Because of my research background, I have also been known to search “high and low” for a particular detail or item that might make a table, event, or swag bag PERFECT; and with all of that, the High-Low Hostess brand began.

Born from a true love for entertaining and an equal passion for research, the goal of High-Low Hostess is to empower and inspire home hosts to make celebrations of every style, size, and budget easier and more unforgettable.

A growing collection of imaginative and practical tools, guidance, and resources makes every part of the process seamless, every detail is effortless — and every occasion more beautiful, more meaningful, and more memorable for all.

Our brand purpose is simply to nurture joy, connection, and presence!

How is diversity in the workplace evolving, and how does it play into your company and its mission?

We wholeheartedly believe in inclusion and believe that differences in people and culture are exactly what makes the world go round!

Of course, one of the wonderful aspects of parties and entertaining is that every culture, group, or person has unique ideas and traditions associated with celebration – honing in on those distinctions and collaborating with other ideas can make a party even more special, interesting, and unforgettable.

During the pandemic many people lost their jobs and livelihood, how did your company adapt and pivot during this time to be what it is today?

High-Low Hostess very much focuses on the home hostess and events in one’s “home,” appreciating the intimacy that comes with entertaining in your dining room, backyard, or own unique space. With the pandemic, we obviously knew people were spending more time at home, and in many cases, still craved a reason for celebration.

High-Low Hostess began styling from afar, curating unique items that coordinated with a client’s current inventory, providing links and options for clients to purchase these additional items on their own – again, with the goal to make the planning process seamless, and in turn, actual entertaining effortless.

Our mindset is that even the smallest celebrations should feel special. 

If you could go back and talk to your younger self what would you tell her and why? 

I would tell my younger self not to worry about having everything figured out. I would tell her to be patient and believe in herself. I would remind her that she is smart, capable, and worthy to be in any room and in any conversation.

(I might also tell her to pay closer attention on the farm – my now-retired farmer dad can fix anything, and it’s a shame I didn’t retain more of those skills!) 😉

Where do you see yourself and your career going in this new year and in the future? 

High-Low Hostess has a lot on the horizon! I have a few very specific professional goals that I am quietly working towards and hope to announce sometime this next year! Personally, and as an entrepreneur, I am always working towards work-life balance and also finding joy and connection in both work and family.

A happy surprise this past year is the amount of swag bag projects I’ve had and how much fun they’ve been to put together! I currently have some celebrity clients for whom I am curating high-end welcome bags and party favors for their upcoming weddings, birthdays, and other events.

I am excited to continue this aspect of High-Low Hostess, as it’s a real passion to find and put together the best and most unique items for my clients.

How can our readers connect with you on social media? 

Please follow High-Low Hostess on Instagram at @highlowhostess and Barely Bread at @barelybread.

Amanda Orso of High Low Hostess: Meeting The Needs of the ‘Home Hostess’ For Any Occasion
Photo credit: BV, HnM and Liliana Porras
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